Lariba earns berth at Rio Olympics

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National player Ian Lariba became the first ever Filipino to qualify in the Olympics since the sport was first played during the 1988 Summer Games in South Korea.

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Lariba bagged the last Olympic slot in the women’s singles division during the 2016 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament in Hong Kong.

The 22-year-old Lariba did not give up despite losing on her first try against Orawan Paranang of Thailand (6-11, 2-11, 4-11, 11-13) in Southeast Asia stage one bracket that sent her to Draw D in the stage two of the competition.

Lariba, who steered De La Salle University to UAAP crown, swept Indonesian Lilis Indriani, 11-6, 11-2, 11-8, 11-5, in the playoff for the last Olympic berth.

Lariba won the classification phase over Maha Faramarzi of Qatar, 11-5, 11-1, 11-7, 11-4, before subduing Mahjobeh Omran of Iran, 11-6, 15-13, 11-8, 7-11, 10-12, 11-8. She then lost to her Thai opponent before winning against her Indonesian foe to reach the last seat in the Olympics.

So far, there are five Rio-bound athletes namely Eric Cray (athletics), Rogen Ladon (boxing), Charly Suarez (boxing), Kirstie Elaine Alora (tae kwon do) and Lariba.

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